Will Continue Sketching Govt’s Failures: Cartoonist Bala Gets Bail

The cartoon in question targets the state administration over the immolation of a family hounded by loan sharks.

Updated
India
3 min read
Cartoonist Bala.
i

Tirunelveli District Court on Monday, 6 November, granted bail to cartoonist Bala, who was arrested a day earlier for his caricature on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the Police Commissioner.

Addressing the media after getting out on bail, Bala said that he will continue drawing cartoons to highlight the failures of the government.

I am also a journalist. I did not commit murder. I don’t regret this cartoon. I will continue to highlight the inefficiency of the government through my cartoon. I will continue to draw cartoons. I will not stop. From Modi to EPS, I will highlight the failures of the government
Bala

The Tamil Nadu cartoonist landed in trouble with the Tirunelveli police in Tamil Nadu over a cartoon targeting the state administration over the immolation of a family hounded by loan sharks.

Cartoonist Bala was arrested from his residence in Chennai on Sunday, 5 November, by the Tirunelveli police following a complaint by the Tirunelveli district Collector Sandeep Nandhudri.

The cartoon that has the administration fuming shows a naked Nellai Police Commissioner, Collector and Chief Minister trying to cover themselves up with wads of cash, as they close their eyes to a child's burning body.

The caricature made by Bala.
The caricature made by Bala.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)
It alludes to the recent tragedy where four members of a family set themselves on fire outside the Tirunelveli collectorate, after their complaints of harassment by usurers allegedly fell on deaf ears.

The cartoon, which borders on the obscene, clearly stung the district collector, who filed a complaint against the cartoonist.

The collector had filed the complaint towards the end of October. An FIR was registered and the cartoonist was arrested from his residence in Chennai. He will be brought to Tirunelveli for further investigations.
Tirunelveli SP Arunsakthikumar to The News Minute

The cartoonist has been booked under Section 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) of the IPC, and it is to be read with Section 67 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the IT act.

The complaint filed against Bala states that the cartoon is 'derogatory' and 'defamatory'.

“This highly demeaning cartoon shows the government officers (collector and commissioner of police) in poor light and also casts aspersions about their integrity. The cartoon also shows the Honourable Chief Minsiter of Tamil Nadu in a highly derogatory and belittling way. The cartoon is published without verification of facts and is highly humiliating. It is defamatory in nature and is meant to create among the public, hatred towards the officers and CM.”
FIR

But this arrest has drawn criticism from various quarters with activists, journalists and even a former police officer questioning it. The Tirunelveli police, however, remains unfazed.

"We have acted as per the law and followed all required procedures," said the SP. "We are yet to conduct a thorough enquiry with the accused. We will share further details when it is complete," he adds.

However, Bala, on his part, is not new to such controversy.

He has, in the past, been accused of misogyny in his illustrations and attracted the ire of politicians and activists alike. His cartoon featuring DMK chief Karunanidhi and Congress leader Kushboo in 2014 had caused an uproar among women activists who termed the blatant sexism highly distasteful.

(This article was originally published on The News Minute)

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